Middle School Teacher Preparation : Michigan

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


The state should ensure that middle school teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content.

Meets a small part of goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Middle School Teacher Preparation : Michigan results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/MI-Middle-School-Teacher-Preparation--6

Analysis of Michigan's policies

Michigan allows middle school teachers to teach on a generalist K-8 license if they are assigned to self-contained classrooms. Candidates are required to complete a major of not less than 30 semester hours or a group major of 36 semester hours, plus a "planned program" of 20 semester hours in "other fields deemed appropriate to elementary education." The state also allows teachers with secondary certificates to teach single subjects in middle school. Candidates must also complete a major of not less than 30 semester hours or a group major of 36 semester hours, plus a minor of 20 semester hours or a group minor of 24 semester hours.

All new middle school teachers in Michigan must also pass a subject-matter test, the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC). Although secondary teacher candidates must pass a subject-specific test, those teaching middle grades on a generalist license need only pass the general subject-matter test for elementary education. Therefore, there is no assurance that these middle school teachers will have sufficient knowledge in each subject they teach.


Recommendations for Michigan

Eliminate K-8 generalist license.
Michigan should not allow middle school teachers to teach on a generalist license that does not differentiate between the preparation of middle school teachers and that of elementary teachers. These teachers are less likely to be adequately prepared to teach core academic areas at the middle school level because their preparation requirements are not specific to the middle or secondary levels and they need not pass a subject-matter test in each subject they teach. Adopting middle school teacher preparation policies for all such teachers will help ensure that students in grades 7 and 8 have teachers who are appropriately prepared to teach grade level content, which is different and more advanced than what elementary teachers teach. 

Strengthen middle school teachers' subject-matter preparation.
Michigan should encourage middle school teachers who plan to teach multiple subjects to earn two minors in two core academic areas. Middle school candidates who intend to teach a single subject should earn a major in that area.

Require subject-matter testing for middle school teacher candidates.
Michigan should require subject-matter testing for all middle school teacher candidates in every core academic area they intend to teach as a condition of initial licensure.

State response to our analysis

Michigan was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state added that an elementary education candidate who seeks authorization for a departmentalized middle school (6-8) classroom must hold an endorsement in the content area of the assignment and must pass the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification in the specific academic content area of the endorsement.  

Research rationale

A report published by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (NMAP) concludes that a teacher's knowledge of math makes a difference in student achievement. U.S. Department of Education. Foundation for Success: The Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education (2008).

For additional research on the importance of subject matter knowledge, see Dee and Chodes, "Out-of-Field Teaching and Student Achievement; Evidence from Matched-Pairs Comparisons." Public Finance Review (2008); as B. Chaney, "Student outcomes and the professional preparation of 8th grade teachers," in NSF/NELS 88: Teacher transcript analysis (Rockville, MD: Westat, 1995); H. Wenglinsky, How Teaching Matters: Bringing the Classroom Back Into Discussions of Teacher Quality (Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service, 2000). For information on the "ceiling effect," see D. Goldhaber and D. Brewer, "When should we reward degrees for teachers?" in Phi Delta Kappan 80, No. 2 (1998): 134-138.